Provided by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s Office
Congresswoman Comstock chaired a hearing on Dec. 13 at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology on the Head Health Challenge: Preventing Head Trauma from the Football Field to Shop Floor to Battlefield.
The hearing reviewed the results of the Head Health Challenge, a private-public partnership designed to develop innovative advanced materials to better improve protective equipment for sports, industry, military, and other users at high risk of head trauma. The competition is cosponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and three private organizations: the National Football League, General Electric, and Under Armour. The applicants were evaluated on a number of testing qualifications. Each of the final five winners received $250,000 to advance their submissions and the final two grand prize co-winners – Dynamic Research and 6D Helmets, out of an original 125 submissions, will split an additional $500,000. This competition is the third in a series over a four year, $60 million private-public collaboration.
“As a mother of children who have played sports and a grandmother, I am concerned about the short term and long term impacts of head trauma. By incentivizing problem solvers to tackle these complex issues on preventing repetitive brain trauma, the government is catalyzing growth in new sciences and technologies, which will have wide impacts beyond the specific problem they are attempting to solve, not just for those who play sports, but also our men and women in the military and workers in dangerous jobs.
“As Dr. Alex Deghan, CEO and founder of Conservation X Labs said during his testimony, ‘Instead of looking for the needle in the haystack, we need to incentivize the needle to find you,’ by engaging in these competitions, Congress is encouraging development and innovation not just for the winners, but all the participants, who can produce innovative and novel breakthroughs.
“I was happy to showcase such innovation in the form of my constituent, Mr. Shawn Springs, a former Redskins player, and now CEO of Leesburg-based Windpact, who is on the cutting edge of developing materials to prevent the physical damage from impacts and who offered his unique perspective on using private-public partnerships like the Head Health Challenge to spur innovation.
“I strongly believe that public-private science prize competition are invaluable to the advancement of player safety,” said Shawn Springs, CEO of Windpact and former Redskins player. “Learning and accepting guidance from the medical community, our aim is to be the catalyst of innovation for impact protection technology so manufacturers can build better products for their customers.
“Windpact chose to make its headquarters in Loudoun County for multiple reasons. With all of the development in the area, we believe it is the next innovation hub. Additionally, its location is close to military and government offices, as well as the dense population of families and kids in the area playing sports, it made sense for us to be located in an area where we could make real connections to the communities we are working to protect.”